Electric Smile (Outrider OR-9812)
Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA – June 29th, 1974
(73:39): Willie And The Hand Jive / Get Ready, Blues Power, Have You Ever Loved a Woman, Mainline Florida, Smile (Electric Version), Little Queenie, Layla, Presence of the Lord, Crossroads
Of the many soundboard fragments to surface from Eric Clapton’s 1974 US tour, the earliest belongs to the June 29th show in Philadelphia. This was the second stop of the tour after the opening night in New Haven the night before (and which only an audience recording circulates). Electric Smile is the only silver pressed version of the show available.
Like other soundboard tapes this is a high generation dub of a dull sounding tape. Although it’s clear enough to be be enjoyable, it lacks the dynamics, preventing it from capturing the true atmosphere of the show. Since the setlist changed nightly it’s hard to say what exactly is missing, but the previous night in he started with “Let It Rain,” “Drifing Blues” and “Badge” and the following night in New York started with the acoustic set common to the rest of the tour.
It cuts in during “Willie And The Hand Jive.” There are several minor cuts between some of the songs and one at 5:28 in “Have You Ever Loved A Woman.”
The medley of “Willie And The Hand Jive” and “Get Ready” is very restrained in Philadelphia, sounding closer to the studio recording that it would as the tour progresses. “I’d like to propose a toast to you fucking lot” he slurs afterwards. “And this ain’t Coca-Cola.”
“Blues Power” starts with a short country & western melody and segues into “Have You Ever Loved A Woman.” Before “Mainline Florida” he pauses “for a bit of bevy to wet my whistle.”
Afterwards is the first live performance of “Smile.” Charlie Chaplin composed the music for his 1936 film Modern Times and the words were written by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons 1954. It would be in rotation as a set starter for much of the year in a mellow acoustic arrangement. In this show its played on electric guitars, but otherwise doesn’t differ much.
Clapton sings some innovative lyrics in “Little Queenie” such as “Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Roy Rogers was giving Trigger one up the behind, you know what I mean?” The Chuck Berry cover closes the set.
After a cut in the tape a bunch of firecrackers, and Yvonne Elliman’s excited reaction, are heard before they start off the first encore “Layla.” At this point the balance of the soundboard changes. The guitars are mixed lower and the vocals are much higher than before. Only the first half is played and it segues into “Presence Of The Lord.”
A hard rock rendition of “Crossroads” closes the show. Clapton turns it into a Robert Johnson pastiche by throwing different verses such as “squeeze my lemon until the juice runs down my leg” from “Travelling Riverside Blues.” They hammer the final chorde several times bringing the show to a climactic finish.
Electric Smile on Outrider comes packaged in a simple single pocket cardboard sleeve with two photos from the tour on the front and back. Eric Clapton collectors would want it because it is such an early show from an important tour and having the electric “Smile” rarity in such a good recording is a plus. However there are much better performances from the era to choose from that this isn’t an essential title to have.